Senioritis Strikes Student Government

Nearly half of the Senior Class Fails to Attend Student Government


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Student Government is a mandatory course for every student enrolled in the Parker Upper School. Despite this fact, on Friday, February 17, nearly half of the senior class did not attend Student Government. An email was promptly sent to the class of 2023 and each of their parents, expressing that the faculty sponsors were in “disappointment and dismay.” 

Throughout the entirety of the 2022-23 school year, enthusiasm for Student Government has been lower than past years. During the 2021-22 school year, the weekly Student Senate sessions experienced “incredible turnout and energy,” according to former Senate Sergeant-in-Arms Evan Sato. Only a year later, “enthusiasm is very low for the weekly Student Senate,” said current Senate Head Harry Lowitz. “We’re not sure what changed between this year and last year, but enthusiasm seems to be going down, and people have come to value their breaks more than they used to.” 

Plenary, the mandatory all-Upper School assembly, has been met with a similar lack of enthusiasm throughout the 2022-23 school year. “You can see it visually. There’s no one in the chairs,” said longtime Faculty Sponsor Jeanne Barr. 

“I’ve noticed a lot less energy and enthusiasm for plenary this year,” added junior Sasha Hild. 

This lack of excitement for Student Government reached its peak on February 17. On this date, 35 of the 81 seniors failed to attend the mandatory meeting. Despite Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno’s attempts to guide students to the auditorium for Student Government, many seniors were able to avoid Bruno’s polite requests for students to respect Student Government. While popular senior hangout spots such as the Publications Office and the Library were empty, the wavy hallway served as a new home for seniors from 1:05 p.m. to 1:55 p.m. that Friday. 

For those unsatisfied with the respite of the wavy hallways, the businesses around Parker served as a new home for Student Government fleeing Seniors. The Starbucks at Clark and Dickens was “flooded with members of the Class of 2023” according to a senior who walked by the Starbucks during the allotted Student Government time playing Pokémon Go. “I really needed coffee, and I had no other time in the day to re-energize myself,” said senior Reid Albert. 

Gefen Horn, one of the seniors who attended Student Government, expressed her perspective that the low turnout amongst Seniors should not be surprising. “We’re second semester seniors, so it only fits that most of us don’t end up going,” said Horn. “I had a feeling attendance was going to be checked since nobody showed up the week before, which is why I made my friends go with me.” 

Horn’s intuition that attendance would be checked turned out to be a good one. Following the conclusion of the daily agenda, all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were dismissed. Holding a clipboard and pencil, Barr proceeded to engage in a roll call of every name in the senior class. The long established senior practice of asking a friend to mark you as “attended” was scuttled by Barr’s pencil and clipboard, as falsified attendance marks were deleted and the empty air that followed 35 seniors’ names left the fourth year students with nowhere to hide. Barr said that roll calls for the senior class will continue as a means to see if “any patterns emerge regarding who comes and who doesn’t come to Student Government.” 

Shortly after student government, Barr, on behalf of the three faculty sponsors of student government – Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno, Spanish Teacher Julia Garner, and herself – sent out an email to the seniors who failed to attend. The email detailed that the mass senior absence resulted in the student body being “dangerously close to not having a quorum today, which would have jeopardized the proposal on the agenda.” The proposal presented was the “Vote of No Confidence” which would allow the student body to express their lack of confidence in an administrator. The email sent out said that this proposal “values transparency, accountability, trust, and community within our school.” The email further went on to say to  the 35 seniors that “with all due respect, your absence today reflects a lack of regard for precisely those values, as if they don’t apply to you.  In our opinion, that reflects very poorly on you.” The email was also sent to the parents and guardians of the absent seniors.

The harsh words were not received well by the graduating class. “I don’t think it’s that deep,” said senior Malachi Mitchell. “I just didn’t want to go sit and do nothing right before February break.” 

Some students also had a gripe with a point in the email which detailed that students who skipped missed a documentary shown by Parker’s Black Student Union (BSU) about the “Black experience at Parker… and lost the opportunity to learn from them and appreciate what they had to say.” There was nothing posted ahead of time to inform students of this BSU presentation, meaning there was no way for students to know they would be learning about the Black experience at Parker. Senior Caleb David echoed similar sentiments. “I didn’t go to student government,” said David. “Something about that point regarding BSU in the email felt wrong, and it felt like they were trying to frame skipping Student Government as racist.” 

Student Government President Samantha Graines expressed frustration with the lack of senior class attendance. “I try to put forth an agenda that will excite the Student Body,” said Graines, “however, it can only be effective if the Student Body shows up. It is quite discouraging for me because not only does it harm the work that the Cabinet is doing, but it also sets a negative foundation for the future of Student Government. We owe it to the younger grades to show up and reinstall energy back into Student Government.”

With less than 50 days left of academic classes for the Class of 2023, seniors face a weekly decision whether to attend Student Government or confront a potential negative outcome. At this time, there are “no defined consequences,” said Barr. “We’ll see how the numbers of attending seniors develops over the coming weeks.”